USB Device Not Recognized with your iPod Nano

I’ve had my iPod Nano for just under a year now and really like it. It’s not the most full-featured mp3 player on the market, but it does have a slick interface and works really well… for the most part. So, when I started experience bizarre errors with my Nano about 3 months ago, I started to get a little worried. I quickly checked Apple’s website to see if my Nano was still under warranty, which it was, so I breathed a little easier, but I still didn’t know what was causing the problem with my iPod.

nano

Here’s what was happening. About 50% of the time I’d plug it into my computer and it would work fine. The other 50% of the time I’d plug it in via the USB cable and I’d get the following messages:

First I’d get this lovely one from Windows:

found new hardware

(Text: “Found New Hardware – A problem occurred during hardware installation. Your new hardware might not work properly.”)

I also occasionally got this error in ITunes, which really confused me:

itunes error

(Text: “iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPod “CRAGUNPOD”. Use the iPod Updater to restore the iPod to factory settings.”)

Since my iPod worked 50% of the time, I knew deep down inside that this just didn’t make sense. Here’s a photo of my iPod connecting to iTunes just fine:

connected to Itunes

You can also see in the above photo that the USB connection icon in the taskbar is weird looking compared to how it normally looks when it corrects okay:

good connection

And since my iPod played just fine, I was skeptical that the problem was with the iPod. Even so, there were two more error messages I’d get that didn’t make much sense to me, but do explain why some people recommend some completley useless solutions:

Error #2:

perform faster

(Text: “This device can perform faster – This USB device can perform faster if you connect it to a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port. For a list of available ports, click here.”)

I knew this error didn’t make much sense since all of the ports on my computer are USB 2.0. Even so, it seems to indicate there may be a problem with my ports or maybe with the USB drivers (more on this below).

Error #3:

usb not recognized

(Text: “USB Device Not Recognized – One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it. For assistance in solving this problem, click this message.”)

This last Windows error caused me the most grief. This seemed to indicate that my Nano was malfunctioning. But, again, since it played fine for me when it wasn’t connected, I didn’t think the iPod was the problem.

So, what to do? As any relatively tech savvy geek would, I turned to the internet. I typed in “USB Device Not Recognized” and iPod Nano in Google and got a variety of results. Other people were experiencing similar problems – lots of people (which is probably why you’re here too)! The solutions offered seemed to make sense considering the errors that were popping up. Here are some of the solutions I tried:

Wrong Solution #1:

device manager

Reinstall all of your USB drivers – One forum recommended deleting all of your USB drivers from the Device Manager and reinstalling them all after you reboot. You right click on each of the entries under Universal Serial Bus controllers and delete them. I tried that, and it seemed to work, once. But, surprise, surprise, I got the same error later on.

Wrong Solution #2:
Missing USB .dll file – One website recommended checking to see if you were missing a .dll file that is necessary for USB 2.0 drivers to work. Since I had the file in the right folder, that wasn’t the problem.

Wrong Solution #3:
Reset The iPod Nano – This was probably the most common initial response, and was, of course, completely useless. You can reset your iPod by holding down both the Menu button and the center button for a few seconds. Sometimes it would seem to work and the iPod would connect, but other times it wouldn’t do anything. Again, this is not the solution.

Wrong Solution #4:
Restore the iPod to Factory Settings – This is what was recommended by the iTunes software in the error message above. This solution, however, is the most annoying of them all. Why? Because I couldn’t get the damn iPod to connect to a computer to reset it!!! The only way to reset an iPod to the factory settings is to connect it to a computer that has the iPod Updater software installed on it. And since the problem was with getting the iPod to connect to the computer in the first place, this was even worse than useless.

Wrong Solution #5:
Put the iPod into Disk Mode – A little known feature of the iPod is the ability to put it into Disk Mode. Apparently this turns your iPod into a fancy storage drive, but it doesn’t solve the connection problem. Once again, useless.

Wrong Solution #6:
Revert your USB ports to 1.0 – Some “genius” on one forum suggested reverting your USB ports back to 1.0. A real winning solution. This isn’t even possibly on most computers (unless your original hardware has USB 1.0 ports). Don’t even bother with this one…

Wrong Solution #7:
I tried a few more of the wacky, worthless solutions people blindly threw out on the internet, but nothing seemed to work. Frustrated, I took my iPod into an Apple store to the so-called “Genius Bar” where the “genius” plugged my iPod into a computer and it worked fine. At this point I began to wonder if maybe the problem was with my connection cable, so I took that along. He tried it with my cable – no problem. He then gave me a look as if to say, “Why bother me, a genius, with your petty problems. You’re an idiot; now leave!” (Actually, he was nice, but, like so many other solutions, completely useless.)

Wrong Solution #8:
Out of options, I broke down and tried the two solutions I didn’t think would work but had not tried. I reinstalled iTunes. No luck! Then I reformatted my Windows XP computer. Yep, I reformatted the whole damn thing – spent an entire afternoon fussing with it (I’m actually pretty good at it and don’t mind doing it every now and then, so it wasn’t that big of a deal). Guess what? Reformatting didn’t do a damn thing. I still had the same connection problem!!!

Wrong Solution #9:
At my wits end, I decided that I had to rule out every possibility. I broke down and bought a replacement cable for my iPod at CircuitCity. Thirty dollars later I learned that I could experience the exact same connection problems with the replacement cable that I could with my regular cable. It wasn’t the cable. (I did return it – thanks CircuitCity, and sorry about the packaging…).

Out of possible solutions, I seriously considered selling my iPod on Ebay and being done with it. I’d buy some cheap knock off and listen to podcasts on that device. I was seriously frustrated. I’m usually very good at troubleshooting things but I was bordering on defeat….

Then, in a flash of my own “genius,” I tried something different. I straightened out the cable that connects the iPod to the USB port and plugged it into my computer. It connected fine, just like it did about 50% of the time. Then, hesitantly, I applied a little pressure to the end of the connector where it locks into the iPod and BANG!!!! Errors left and right!!!! All of the stupid ass errors I had been fighting with for the past three months showed up. Device Failure! USB Device Not Recognized, etc.!!!! I had finally figured out the problem – the proprietary connector end of the USB cable that comes with the iPod Nano isn’t very good at getting a solid connection. If you tweak the connection just a little bit, all hell breaks lose! Here are some pictures to illustrate what I’m talking about:

Here’s a picture of the connection port on the iPod Nano:

port

Here’s a picture with the iPod slightly angled so you can see how sensitive the connector inside really is:

connector at an angle

As you can see, it’s just a thin little wafer inside there that sends all of the data back and forth. It’s pretty flimsy and has a lot of little connection grooves on it – connections that are easily lost when you add a little pressure to the cable.

Here are two pictures of me holding the Nano. The first is with the cable straight in:

straight

And here I am tweaking the connection just a little bit:

tweaked

I’m really not putting much pressure on the cable connector and you can see that it is bending away from the iPod. With just that much pressure, the connection between the computer and the iPod is lost. And just so you know I’m not making this up, the screenshots I used for this post were taken today, after I figured out what the problem was (I actually figured things out about a month ago). I tweaked the connector just a little bit and the errors started popping up. I hated making my computer experience the error again because I’m not exactly sure what damage is caused as a result. Certainly the stress on the Nano’s interface isn’t good, but in the name of spreading information, I took the risk. As any good scientist will tell you, in order to test a hypothesis you need to conduct an experiment. I predicted that the problem was the connection between the cable and the iPod. When I tweaked the connection, I got the errors. When I reset everything and made sure there was no tension on the connector, no problems. In my book, that means hypothesis confirmed: the problem is the connection.

Now, understand, I’m a pretty clean-living guy. I may have a few cables running here and there, but I treat my equipment really well. I wasn’t putting any real undue pressure on my iPod cable when I started getting these errors. I wasn’t careful about having my iPod sitting level, but I didn’t think that would be a big deal. I wasn’t sitting there tweaking it or anything. I just started one day. I don’t get the errors anymore, but then I’m fairly careful to lay my iPod completely flat on my desk and make sure there is absolutely no tension on the connector when I connect it. Just the slightest bit of tension will cause the error. I’m guessing that just with regular use this problem will develop in many iPods over time. Why? Poor design! Apple likely went with a proprietary connector to make money. You can buy a regular USB cable for a couple of bucks. Apple charges $30 for a replacement iPod cable! They went with a proprietary connection to make money and that connector is awful (can you say class-action lawsuit?)! It is extremely sensitive and the slightest bit of tension on it will result in errors that don’t make sense to mere mortals.

So, what’s the right solution?:
Lay your iPod flat on a hard surface and make sure there is no tension on the connector. Make sure your cable is straight and connected properly to the iPod. Now, before you plug in the USB side, restart your Windows computer and reset your iPod (hold down the menu and center buttons for a few seconds). Resetting everything seems to be necessary as the error gets everything screwed up (I’m not a programmer or tech genius, but I know it works). With everything reset and your computer back on, plug in your iPod and see if you get the error. I’m betting you don’t. If you do, and you get it all the time on every computer you try, I’m guessing the connection port on your iPod is now shot. Take it into Apple and exchange it!

If this solution doesn’t work for you, well, you can post a comment below, but I’m not making any guarantees. Like I said, I’m not a computer genius. But having tried all of the other solutions I found, I’m fairly confident this is the answer.

46 Replies to “USB Device Not Recognized with your iPod Nano”

  1. I ad been getting the “USB device not recognized” error for a while on my ipod nano and thought my cable was bad (as the USB ports worked fine for other devices). From the info in your article and on a hunch, I applied some slight pressure to the cable that plugs into the nano to see if just maybe there was a problem “seating” the cable properly in the ipod socket and voila! it connected without error and started charging. I had done some internet searching and tried several of the wrong solutions before I found your post. A big thanks for helping me to solve my problem! Hope this helps someone else out there. :-)

  2. Ditto to the commentleft earlier today (Jan 10, 2009) … I’ve been having this same “USB device not recognized” error with my daughter’s Ipod Nano for months now, and have tried many of the (wrong) solutions found on the internet – and found them as ineffective as you. Your solution was *finally* the only one which worked!! Thank you *VERY* much.

  3. Hey Man…I get this problem occasionally too…

    The problem I’ve been having is that my 4th gen 8G is only working with like one of my ports in the back of my tower…

    I had been using the same port in the front of my tower for as long as I’ve had the darn thing and then earlier this month it stopped being recognized and I got error code 1439…meh

    I’ve heard that it’s maybe the iPod’s file system that sucks that causes this trouble…

    I don’t know what I’m gonna do if it fails to be recognized by this port…

    Geez the problems with this Apple product…

  4. Hey Blue,

    That sounds like it could be a different problem. I’d take it in to a “genius” at the apple store and see if they can fix it.

    -Ryan

  5. I’ve had this problem since about day one with this iPod. Sometimes it would connect and sometimes it wouldn’t. Lately it’s been happening more and more. After a bit of searching this morning I came across your posting. I straightened out the USB cord specifically at the iPod connection end, it worked immediately. Thank you!

  6. i use my ipod in my trucks glove compartment connected to the usb ipod control and if i hit a bump and mess out the angle the connection cuts out. lame apple, if the stereo supported control of anything but an ipod i wouldnt have bought the ipod

  7. This Method didnt work at all for me. it sucked. Something is seriously messed.

    I have a 3rd Gen iPod Nano.

    When i connect the thing to my computer, the iPod turns on, without showing me a sign tht its connected, and nothing pops up on the computer. iTunes doesnt even recognize it!!

    iim going crazy cause of this stupid iPod!!

  8. Hayybee,

    I never said it would solve every problem. If you’re having issues, take it to an Apple store. See if they can get it to work.

  9. Wow, is all I can say. Hours and hours of reading and not just today, but many times before.

  10. Hi i have the same problem, my iPod charges when i plug in the USB cable but my PC still says me “USB device not recognized…” what should i do, i tried to put on some pressure but it still won’t work, maybe i don’t put enough pressure idk what to do :( smbdy help please.
    Best regards Radu!
    P.S. sorry for my bad English

  11. Hi Radu. If the directions in the post above don’t help, you may have a more serious problem. If that’s the case, you should take it in to an Apple store (if you have one nearby) or find another way to send it in for repairs.

  12. Hi Ryan, thanks for reply, but the problem is not in iPod because when i just plug in the usb cable without ipod connected it’s still shows me that the USB Device is not Recognized… i tried t plug it in i my laptop too and it’s also shows me this error :(
    Best Regards Radu.
    sorry for my bad English :)

  13. I get this problem, not just sometimes, but all the time…..ive tried all the ways yu posted here, and yurs, still nothing… ive tried it in many differant computers,xp, and vista,it was completely dead, but its barely charged now,so its had to have done something… when i plug it in it totally restarts showing tha apple icon, and when it fully turns on it shows tha screen which says connect to power, and then goes to tha main menu, it will just randomly restart, and nothing will work, im going crazy with out my ipod…..can someone please help

  14. Hi Shadde,

    I’d recommend taking it into a Mac store and letting them look at it. If it still has problems there, your iPod is probably defective.

    Best,

    Ryan

    1. If my recommended advice doesn’t help, I’d suggest taking the iPhone into an Apple store and letting the “Genuises” there take a look at it.

  15. At this point, everyone else in the world may have this problem figured out, but it took me some time! I have an iPod Nano with the same “USB device not recognized…” message. I tried the above steps to no avail. I jumped back into the Windows XP Device Manager and after about 10 other screens, came to the below:

    ***Are other USB devices drawing too much power from the hub?
    The device you are trying to use might require all the available power or bandwith that your USB bus can provide. If other devices are connected to the USB bus and are drawing power from it, the first device might not work.

    If any other devices are drawing power from the hub, try disconnecting them, and then see if your device works.***

    My newly purchased (and cheap) printer is connected via USB. I turned it off and disconnected the power. Low and behold, my iPod, digital camera, and other USB connected items work!

    I know how frustrating this problem can be so I hope this helps.

  16. hey dude thanks so much, my ipod nano’s (5th gen) working, i was spending the whole day searching for solutions, your’s the most effective, hehehe. nice, keep it up, i was about to take it to the service centre.

  17. Just wanted to say thanks for your detailed explanation. Had the same exact problem with my 6th generation nano. You’ve certainly saved me time and (potentially) money.

  18. i have an ipod 4th gen. im having the “USB device not recognized.” saying that it malfunctioned. i would like to try this trick where you reset everything, but my battery is dead and i dont have enough time to reset the ipod! whaddo i do??

  19. Solution #3 was the RIGHT solution for me! I was puzzled when all 6 computers and laptops in the house said “unknown device”. Neither would it go to the charging screen on the LCD when I plugged in into the computers. Plugged it into the USB port in the car – no light, no life!

    I reset the device. It fixed it!

  20. I tried the solutions above and none of them worked. What I did to fix my problem was buy a new cable-my iPod’s cable is one that you can just pull out, it doesn’t have the side squeeze clips. When I canged out from the pull cable to the one with clips, it connected up right away. Hope this helps for those who can’t figure out what else to do!

  21. Exactly the same thing happened to me. I was sure my cable was fine so I went through several different solutions across the net, spent a good few hours uninstalling, installing, repairing, rebooting etc. it didn’t work. I was ready to go and buy a new ipod. Then I came across your article and read through all your steps. When it came to try a different cable, I went out to my car and used the one I keep connected in there. Low and behold it worked!! So simple and I wasted several hours trying to fix the damn thing can’t believe it!

  22. I went crazy for about a week before I stumbled on to this site, you were exactly right about everything. You were so right it was funny. But just a simple straightening of the cord and I am back in happy-land. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I lean on my ipod to listen to lectures from the most boring of teachers without it I would fail out of school. So you truly saved me. Thanks again.

  23. Got a brand new ipod nano 7th edition. Won’t turn on, won’t do anything. keep getting message that says “USB Device Not Recognized…” How do i charge it when i can’t get my computer to recognize it?????????????? about ready to use it for target practice!

  24. @francis
    im in the same boat…just bought the thing, tried it on my laptop and my pc..1 windows 7, the other windows vista. service packs updated and all. the thing wont even turn on. both computers say devie not recognized???

  25. @francis @gary, I got the same new on for my daughter at Christmas. Everything going fine then one time “USB Device Not Recognized….” and it wouldn’t turn on. I took it back to Best Buy and they replaced it. One week later the same thing happens. Reading through I contemplated the reset (menu + wouldn’t turn on.) I tried this anyway and it did come on. I held them for about 5 seconds and it was another several seconds before th “apple” came on. The computer then recognized it connected….. and immediately disconnected. Again and again and again. I’ve got t plugged in now and it just keeps going back and forth without moving anything. Not sure if I’ll keep this or not. (Windows 7)

  26. Followed the directions. Re-set the Nano. Looked at the cable connection in to the Nano – some dirt on the connection. Gently scratched it off with my fingernail. Plugged it back in – that fixed this problem for me.

  27. I tried several of the ‘wrong solutions’ on my own, even considered installing new usb drivers. Came across this, pushed the wire in with a flick of the finger – problem solved. Thank you for this, Ryan.

  28. This solution worked perfectly to sync the new IPOD Nano 7th generation to the computer ; ) Now for the rest of the set up. Thanks so much for your help.

  29. I read over most of what you had to offer and went to grab my ipod nano after getting the msg from my computer and then plugging it into mu husbands computer and also getting the same msg…I just straightened the cord out and placed back into the nano and it came on. Wala! I just now plugged it in and it is charging. Now I have to figure out why my computer stopped running itunes lol. Thanks for your help!

  30. After half of day of trying different methods I can confirm this was the answer. If the iPod is connected, and still recharging, yet your computer/itunes does not recognise it then it is best to try another cable, preferably new and non-3rd party. If this doesn’t work then it is the connection…but that’s not my story.

    I was connecting my iPod to my computer to retrieve all my music as I was worried about battery drain. If you are doing the same then you need another program, I tried 2 or 3 that didn’t work. Finally, one called iCopyBot worked – the free version is a bitch as you can only export 10 files at a time. You can either click a few hundred times or pay $20 for added convenience.

    1. Oh, and in addition, you need to uninstall itunes before you use iCopyBot if iTunes gives you an error message. For some reason iTunes was still not recognising my iPod (software issue most likely).

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